tv British Prime Ministers Questions CSPAN October 26, 2015 12:02am-12:40am EDT
on wednesday, members of parliament questioned david cameron on domestic issues, including the steel industry, recent tax cuts, and securities for people of disabilities. this is just over 35 minutes. questions to the prime minister. >> question one, mr. speaker. prime minister cameron: this morning i had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties in the house i shall have further such meetings later today. susan elan jones: i thank the prime minister for that answer. following an extensive public consultation, the government's retail sector champion, kevin hawkins, described our current sunday trading laws as "a workable compromise -- most people seem to be satisfied with
it most of the time." does the prime minister agree? prime minister cameron: i do not agree. i think that there is a strong case for change, but it is a change that we should allow local authorities to decide on, which is why we will be putting in front of the house, in the bill, the opportunity for that to happen. let me give the honorable lady and the house two examples of where i do not think the current situation works. first, there are these restrictions on opening hours for many stores. someone shouts, "what about families?" well, there are ma stores that families would like to shop in, and you have to go to the stores and walk around for hours before they are actually allowed to buy anything. the second point was make -- i would make is that you can shop on the internet. i think that it is time to modernize our approach, give families more choice and help create jobs at the same time.
david burrowes: i have here a question from iain of enfield. he says, "this is an appeal to help those who no longer have any dignity and self-respect. the down and outs." he calls for "a constructive attempt to tackle this growing urban problem." those words, which were spoken nearly 50 years ago by the late, great conservative member for enfield west, iain macleod, resonate today, so will the prime minister's all-out assault on poverty tackle and prevent homelessness? prime minister cameron: i am very grateful to my honorable friend. iain macleod was indeed a great statesman, a great politician and someone who believed, as i do, that we should be as active in social reform as we are in economic reform. when it comes to tackling homelessness, we have the "no second night out" initiative, which is working, particularly in london, to find people a home. frankly, we have to do more,
particularly with troubled families who need an , intervention to help them, often in relation to mental health issues, and make sure that they get all the help they need to deal with their problems and ensure that they have not only a roof over their head, but a job and a livelihood too. jeremy corbyn: i know that the prime minister will absolutely welcome my first few questions, because we are returning to his favorite subject, tax credits. yesterday, one of his back benchers said "too many people will be adversely affected. something must give. for those of us proud enough to call ourselves compassionate conservatives, it must not be on the backs of the working families we purport to serve." where was she wrong? prime minister cameron: the tax credit changes are part of a package and a package that includes a higher national living wage and tax reductions,
and i think that is the right approach for our country. let us make work pay, let us allow people to earn more, let us cut their taxes, and let us make welfare affordable. i am delighted that once again this measure passed the house of commons last night with a big majority. jeremy corbyn: if the prime minister is keen on tax credits helping people into work, i have got a question for him from lisette, who says, "a lot of people are setting up their own businesses as self-employed especially in rural areas where job vacancies are limited and pay is often low. tax credits help them until their business becomes established." cutting tax credits damages her life opportunities and the life opportunities of anyone she might employ. does he not see the value of giving support to people trying to improve their lives rather than cutting their ability to survive properly?
prime minister cameron: of course we want to help the self-employed on low incomes, and that is why the people on the lowest incomes will continue to receive the child tax credit at £2,730. but there are other things we are doing to help the self-employed. we are cutting income tax. that helps the self-employed. we are introducing the employment allowance to cut the national insurance budget for the self-employed. that helps. but above all what we are doing is creating an economy with 2 million more people in work, an economy that is growing, wages that are rising, and inflation that is at zero. all these questions on tax credits in a way come back to the same point, which is how you build a strong and secure economy. you do not do it on the back of a massive deficit and an ever-increasing debt, which is what labour left us with. jeremy corbyn: this is all very strange, because the prime minister seems to have changed
his mind on this subject in rather a large way. john e-mailed me to say, the prime minister solemnly declared on national television shortly before the last -- yes, solemnly, and i am solemn as well -- shortly before the last general election that tax credits would not be affected. is there any reason why this change has come about or any reason why we should believe the prime minister on any assurances he gives in relation to tax credits? prime minister cameron: what we said before the election is that we would reduce welfare by £12 billion as part of getting the deficit down, part of getting the economy growing, and part of creating 2 million jobs. that is what happened at the election, and we are keeping our promises by delivering that stronger economy. he talks about something strange happening. something quite strange did happen last night. we had a vote on tax credits and the deputy leader of the labour party did not turn up. can he explain that strange outing?
jeremy corbyn: if the prime minister cannot answer now on tax credits and the devastation thank you. and the devastation that the cuts are causing to many people's lives, can i ask him to deal with another subject, the steel industry? does he appreciate the devastating effects that the government's non-intervention in the steel industry is having on so many people? i have got a question from a maintenance fitter at the tata steelworks in scunthorpe. he is helping to produce steel for network rail and many companies that were exporting it. he wants to know what the prime minister is going to do to support the steel industry and its workers facing redundancy. is it not time to walk the walk rather than talk the talk about
an industrial strategy? prime minister cameron: we do want to help our steel industry, and we recognize -- well, i will set out exactly how we will help the steel industry. it is in a very difficult situation. world prices have collapsed by more than half, and the surplus capacity in the world is more than 50 times the uk output, but our plan is to take action in four vital areas -- in procurement, in energy costs, in unfair competition and dumping, and in tax and government support. honorable members opposite are asking, "what have you done so far?" well, let me take one example. on procurement, we changed the procurement rules so that it was easier to source uk steel. that is why crossrail, 26 miles of tunnels, the biggest construction project anywhere in europe is using almost exclusively british steel. that did not happen under the last labour government. it does happen now.
jeremy corbyn: isn't the real problem that the government does not actually have an industrial strategy to protect this country's most important industries? if they had, they would not have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this house three times in the last eight days. thousands of jobs have already gone or are at risk in redcar, scunthorpe, rotherham, motherwell, cambuslang, wrexham and across the west midlands. isn't it time for concrete action today so that there is government intervention and support for our industry and so that we have a viable steel industry for the long term, which this country desperately needs to have? prime minister cameron: we do want a strong and viable steel industry, and that means taking action across all the areas that i mentioned. let me mention another one -- energy costs. we have already put £50 million into cutting energy costs, and our plans will mean hundreds of
millions of pounds extra to cut energy costs. members opposite -- mr. speaker: order. i apologize for having to interrupt the prime minister. mr. blenkinsop, a statesman-like demeanor is what i would hope for from someone who has served with distinction in the opposition whips office. calm yourself or take a sedative. prime minister. prime minister cameron: on energy, we will save hundreds of millions of pounds. i say to the leader of the opposition that last week in the house of lords the labour party voted to add to energy bills by opposing the measures we are taking on wind power. so, yes, we do have a strategy. we do have a plan and we should be working across the parties to deliver the plan. i met with the member of parliament for scunthorpe and neighboring mp's back in november last year to make sure we could take all the action necessary, and across each of these areas that is exactly what we will do. jeremy corbyn:, well, he met
those members to discuss the issue 11 months ago, but he has yet to go to the european union to discuss how the british government could intervene to protect our industry. the final question i want to put to the prime minister comes from louis. this is deeply embarrassing to all of us in this house and, indeed, to this country as a whole. the united kingdom is currently being investigated by the un committee on the rights of persons with disabilities because of allegations of grave and systematic violations of disabled people's writes. this is very sad news indeed, but it is even sadder that we need to be investigated because of violations that have occurred. will the prime minister commit to co-operate fully with the inquiry and publish in full the government's response to it, so that we can ensure that people with disabilities are treated properly and legally and given full respect by and opportunities in our society? prime minister cameron: first, let me take up the honorable gentleman on the point he made
about intervention in europe. we have been doing this for months, making sure that there is proper action against dumping in the european union. we have taken the cases to the european commission and will continue to do so. on the issue of helping disabled people in our country, tens of thousands more disabled people have got into work under this government. because of legislation passed by a previous conservative government, we have some of the strongest equality legislation when it comes to disability. anywhere in the world. of course i will look at any united nations investigation, but sometimes when you look at these investigations you find that they are not necessarily all they are originally cracked up to be. there are many disabled people in our world who do not have any of the rights or any of the support that they get here in britain, and i think we should be proud of what we do as we co-operate with this report.
andrea jenkyns: bruntcliffe school in my constituency was a struggling school, but it recently achieved its second best results in its history. the school reopened this september as part of the highly successful gorse academies trust and continues to grow from strength to strength. what is my right honorable friend doing to ensure that all pupils have access to a great education and that no school is left behind? prime minister cameron: i thank my honorable friend for that question. we are always happy to hear positive news from morley and outwood. it was not always that way. she makes an important point, which is that in school after school in our country, and often in some quite challenging neighborhoods, we are seeing inspirational teachers using the new tools we have given them and driving up standards. measuring the percentage of those children getting good gcse's is a key way to measure progress. i have myself been to schools where i have seen a 10, 20 or sometimes even 30-point improvement.
often, schools in inner-city areas are doing better than many schools in rather more well-heeled suburban areas. that shows that, with the right teaching and the right leadership, we can have real social opportunity right through our country. angus robertson: information has recently been released that a coroner has found that a 60-year-old disabled father of two from north london, mr. michael o'sullivan, committed suicide following his work capability assessment. the coroner warned that there is a risk of further deaths. the department for work and pensions has reportedly undertaken 60 investigations into suicides that occurred after benefits were withdrawn or reduced, but it has so far refused to publish what it has learned. will the prime minister publish these findings? prime minister cameron: i am aware of the case the honorable member raises, although i am
sure he will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to discuss the specifics of the cases. suicide is always a tragic and complex issue. we should take these matters incredibly seriously. i will look very carefully at the specific question he asks about publication. we have changed the work capability assessment to lead to significant improvements, following a number of independent reviews, to make sure that people get the support that they need, and i think that is vitally important. angus robertson: under the prime minister's plans to cut tax credits, a couple with two children living in a council house who both earn just above the minimum wage stand to lose more than £2,000. that is the equivalent of their basic rate of income tax rising a staggering 90%. does the prime minister have the faintest idea of the human cost of his plans? prime minister cameron: the point i would make to the honorable gentleman is this. first of all, if the couple live in a council house, they are actually seeing a cut in their social rent, because of the plans set out in the budget.
if that couple have children, they will have support in terms of childcare. if that couple are working for a small business, they will have the opportunity of the enhanced employment allowance. if that couple are earning just above the minimum wage, if they are earning, for instance, £7 an hour and working a full-time working week, they will see a huge benefit as we increase the income tax allowance to £12,500. they will almost be paying no income tax at all. what we are doing is introducing higher pay and lower taxes, and that is the way to better family finances and a stronger economy. david jones: given the increasing violence in israel and the occupied palestinian territories, will my right honorable friend wish the united nations secretary-general well on his visit to jerusalem today? does he agree with him when he says that walls, checkpoints, harsh responses by the security forces and house demolitions
cannot achieve the peace that israel desires? prime minister cameron: i would agree that of course those things do not lead to peace, and what is required is a peace process to deliver a two-state solution. we have all seen on television appalling murders on our knife stabbings of entirely innocent people in jerusalem and elsewhere in israel, and that is completely unacceptable. we need to make sure that this peace process gets going on a genuine basis of a two-state solution. jo stevens: food bank use has risen by 1,665% since the prime minister took office in 2010. in cardiff central, i meet people every week who rely on food banks to feed their families. does the prime minister know how many more families will be relying on food banks as a result of his government's cuts
to tax credits, and does he care? prime minister cameron: what is happening in the honorable lady's constituency is that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit is down 20% in the last year, the youth claimant count has fallen almost 20% in the last year, and long-term youth unemployment has fallen in the last year by 38%. that is what is happening. of course, i do not want anyone in our country to have to rely on food banks, but the right answer is a growing economy, creating jobs, higher wages, the national living wage and cutting taxes. that is what we are delivering and that is how to help britain's families. neil carmichael: does the prime minister agree with me that the key to getting higher wages and improving our export drive is actually tackling the productivity gap between ourselves and our european partners? does he think that providing more skills for our manufacturing and engineering sectors is essential to that and will help us to deliver that mission? prime minister cameron: my honorable friend is absolutely
right. britain has had an excellent record in recent years on employment, with record numbers in work. we now need the productivity improvements that will make sure that we see real and sustained increases in living standards. part of that is increasing the skills of our population. that is why the school reform, is so important and why our target of 3 million apprentices for this parliament is vital. anne mclaughlin: i represent a constituency of hard-working, decent people, yet in the forgotten communities of milton, possilpark, springburn, germiston, garngad, royston, blackhill, ruchazie and haghill, child poverty lies at an astonishing 38.1%. i was going to ask if the prime minister was at all touched by the waves of compassion coming even from his back benches in yesterday's tax credit debate, but i think we have the answer to that, so i simply ask whether he can offer a personal guarantee that no child in my
constituency will be worse off a year from now. prime minister cameron: the point i would make to the honorable lady is that those poverty figures come after 20 years of the great tax credit experiment. what we saw was an increase in the cost of tax credits and an increase in in-work poverty. we say that it is time for a new approach -- higher pay, more jobs, lower taxes. if we look at in her constituency, in the last year, the claimant count has come down by 10%. compared with the time of the 2010 election, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in her constituency is down 43%. i say let us give people the chance of a job, a salary, a decent wage and lower taxes. iain stewart: given russia's military expansion and north korea's development of a submarine-launched ballistic
missile system that can strike the west, does the prime minister agree that this is no time to campaign for nuclear disarmament? prime minister cameron: my honorable friend is absolutely right. it is right to maintain our independent nuclear deterrent. anyone who has any doubts about that only has to look at the dangers and uncertainty in our world. frankly, it is very disappointing for this country that for so long, we had a consensus across party that the nuclear deterrent was right for britain, we now have a leader of the opposition who is campaigning with cnd. today, we are celebrating that great film, "back to the future." i am not surprised that many people sitting behind him say that he should get in his delorean, go back to 1985 and stay there. ian mearns: this morning, i was contacted by john who is a
junior doctor in newcastle and alex who is a junior doctor in my constituency of gateshead. they asked me to ask the prime minister how much longer he will support the secretary of state for health, when virtually the entire health service has no confidence in him. prime minister cameron: i support the secretary of state, because he is doing the right thing by increasing the investment in our health service by £10 billion across this parliament. let me speak directly to the junior doctors who he rightly represents. the plans that we have are not for increasing junior doctor hours, they are not for cutting junior doctor pay, and they are not even for making savings in the overall amount that junior doctors receive. it is about making sure that the health service works better for doctors and, above all, for patients. it is part of delivering the seven-day nhs that should be the objective of every member of parliament and everyone in our country.
andrew rosindell: on sunday, i met parents from the gidea park primary school in my constituency regarding the huge increase in the birth rate and the need to expand schools in outer london. there is a crisis at the moment. will the government ensure that there are adequate resources for outer london boroughs such as and will he be prepared to meet a delegation of parents and members of the local council to discuss how we can resolve this serious issue? prime minister cameron: my honorable friend raises an important point. we spent £5 billion on new school places in the last parliament and we will spend £7 billion in this parliament. i will look carefully at what is happening in outer london, but there is no doubt that there are pressures in our system. he makes the good point that our birth rate is going up, which is replacing our population, whereas the birth rate in countries such as germany is not. we do not need the wide-scale
immigration that we have had and need to make sure that the numbers are properly under control. martyn day: will the prime minister tell the house what plans are in place to ensure that the interests of all nations are taken into account in his forthcoming letter to the european president, donald tusk, on eu reforms? what plans are in place to ensure that the devolved nations are represented in renegotiation discussions before the eu summit in december? prime minister cameron: my right honorable friend the foreign secretary recently met the first minister of scotland to discuss the issue of europe, but i say to the honorable gentleman that scotland voted to stay in the united kingdom, and the edinburgh agreement said that we should respect the decision of the scottish people. we had a united kingdom general election, and we will have a united kingdom referendum. on this of all days i was hoping he might raise the fact that,
because of the chinese state visit, alexander dennis, the bus maker in his constituency, is signing a £2 billion deal that will provide thousands of jobs. suella fernandes: i recently visited the british army training unit in suffield in canada, and i met -- mr. speaker: order. scottish national party members must calm themselves. the honorable lady is asking what i think is her first question to the prime minister, and that question will be heard in full. suella fernandes: i recently visited the british army training unit in suffield in canada, and i met many of our brave men and women who are undergoing advanced combat training, including my constituent, major iain wallace of the royal electrical and mechanical engineers. many of them support the government's commitment to spending the nato target of 2% of our gdp on protecting
britain's interests. will my right honorable friend explain how that commitment will go towards investment in technology and equipment, and enable people such as major ian wallace to do his job properly? prime minister cameron: first, i thank major iain wallace for his work that he does. crucially, that 2% of gdp will ensure that all those who join our splendid armed forces in the coming years know that they will have world-beating equipment and technology at their fingertips. that is a really important part of making sure we build strong morale in britain's excellent armed forces. patricia gibson: the operators of hunterston coal terminal in my constituency, peel ports group, has announced significant redundancies. how will the prime minister work with peel ports to explore alternative uses for the terminal which is suitable for imports and exports of a wide range of bulk solids, liquid
products, and offshore decommissioning? prime minister cameron: the honorable lady is right to raise that. closely with peel ports because of the enormous amount of key infrastructure and land that it owns. i will look carefully with the secretary of state and the devolved authorities to see whether there is more that we can do in this instance. jacob rees-mogg: does my right honorable friend share my concern that, if the other place were to vote against changes to working tax credits, that would be a serious challenge to the privilege of this house, a privilege that was codified as long ago as 1678? does he further share my concern that this would entitle him to review the decisions of grey and asquith on creating more peers, to ensure that the government can get its financial business
through? prime minister cameron: my honorable friend makes an important point. his knowledge of history is clearly better than mine, i thought the key date was the parliament act 1911. under that act, issues of finance are supposed to be decided in this house. this house has now decided twice in favor of this measure, once when voting on the statutory instrument and again last night in a vote scheduled by the opposition. the house of lords should listen to that carefully and recognize that it is for this house to make financial decisions, and for the other house to revise other legislation. julie elliott: my constituent, esther sebborn, is a working mother of one, and she is worried. she earns above the so-called national living wage, but is set to lose about £1,700 per year if the government's changes to tax credits go ahead.
what has the prime minister got to say to esther? prime minister cameron: what i would say to esther is that we want to help by making sure we cut her taxes, so that her first £11,000 is entirely tax free. that comes into effect next april. if esther has children, we want to help with the childcare, not just for the two, three and four-year-olds but with tax relief on childcare in future years. if esther is running a small business, we are helping through the employment allowance. in all those ways, i would say to esther and to everybody else, this is a package. we want to see higher pay, lower taxes and reformed welfare. the biggest damage to esther and to all those in that situation would be to return to labour's high taxing, high spending and high borrowing wrecking our economy. james morris: extremism is one of the biggest social problems
that we currently face in britain. would the prime minister agree that we need to redouble our efforts, through the government's counter-extremism strategy, to address the scourge of extremism in britain? prime minister cameron: my honorable friend is absolutely right. that is why we passed the prevent duty and put that duty on every public body in our country, on schools, colleges and universities. the home secretary and i were in a school in luton this week listening to teachers who said it has made a real difference and that referrals into the channel program are happening far more quickly because of the changes we have made. this is going to be the struggle of our generation. and recognizing we have to attack it before it becomes violent extremism is going to be eventually leading to violence.
anna turley: on 16 september, the prime minister told this house that he would do everything he could to keep steelmaking on teesside. he failed. now we learn that the £30 million support package that the government promised for retraining and economic regeneration is not only going towards the statutory redundancies of those who lost their jobs. i have an email from the northern powerhouse minister that says it will also be used to pay for the final salaries of those who have lost their jobs in the past month. this is an insult. i would like to ask, how much more injustice does he think the people of teesside can endure? prime minister cameron: we will do everything we can to help, including the financial package that she set out, making sure we help people with retraining and new opportunities, and with bringing new industries to the area, but let me tell her what we cannot do. we cannot in this house set the world price of steel and we cannot overcome the fact that
the ssi plant had lost £600 million in this parliament. those are the facts which, members opposite have to engage with. john baron: in answer to my question yesterday about our eu renegotiations, the foreign secretary confirmed that there was little or no prospect of this parliament alone being able to say no to any unwanted eu directive, tax or regulation. can i ask the prime minister to try to put that right? prime minister cameron: what we have said is that we want to see a system of red cards on new eu regulations. it is for national parliaments to work together to deliver that, but that is only one of the things that we want to change in our relationship with europe. for instance, getting britain out of ever closer union is not simply a symbol. it will be taken into account in all future jurisprudence when the european court of justice is considering whether to go ahead with a measure. in the end, honorable members,
including my honorable friend, will have to choose whether to stay in europe on an amended basis or whether to leave. i am determined to deliver the strongest possible renegotiation that addresses the concerns of the british people so that we have a proper choice. nic dakin: did the prime minister make clear to the chinese president the urgent need to stop chinese steel dumping? if so, what was the response? will he meet once again with north lincolnshire mp's to see what further can be done to support steelmaking in scunthorpe? prime minister cameron: i am glad that the honorable member was at the summit on friday. i met him back in november, and i am always happy to meet him and neighboring mps again. after this question time, i am going straight to number 10 for several hours of talks with the chinese president, and there will be every opportunity to talk about this issue. i began those discussions last night. i think the chinese recognize that they have huge overcapacity
in their steel industry, which is an issue they have to address as well. but i do not want to make promises i cannot keep. we cannot set the steel price here in this house, and we cannot go beyond the sorts of steps i have talked about on procurement, energy and industrial support. let me remind members opposite. they may want to remember something a record. under labour, steel production halved. under labour, employment in steel halved. since i have been prime minister, steel production has gone up and steel employment has stayed at the same level. so before we get a self-righteous lecture from the party opposite, look at your own record. honorable members: more!
chris philp: i suspect those cheers were for the prime minister, rather than me. would he agree that one reason some steel plants have suffered difficulties is that wholesale electricity prices in this country are twice the level in germany and that one of the reasons for that is former labour party leaders imposed a large number. mr. speaker: order. we do not need to waste time with this. it has nothing to do with government policy. order. it has nothing to do with current government policy. mr. williams. hywel williams: thousands of people who installed cavity wall insulation now have damp, moldy houses because the system has
failed and let in rainwater. many people were misled that this was a government scheme. will the prime minister take a personal interest in this scandal, to ensure that disabled people in particular are fully compensated and to avert further reputational damage to the government's energy conservation measures? prime minister cameron: i will look carefully at the issue, because it goes to a larger point, that the obligations we put on energy companies lead to higher prices, and that goes directly to the point that my honorable friend was trying to ask. even last week, the labour party in the house of lords voted to put up energy prices, which impacts on steel users. they ought to try doing the same thing in the house of lords as in the house of commons. >> you have been watching prime minister's questions from the british house of commons. you can see "question time" on
c-span2 wednesday at 8:00 a.m. eastern and again on sunday night, 9:00 pacific. watch any time on www.c-span.org . >> monday on the communicators, marsha blackburn, vice chair of the energy commerce committee talks about cyber security legislation. she is joined by john mckinnon, reporter for the wall street journal. >> as individuals become breaches, theye come to realize it is not if you have your data breached. it is when is your data going to be breached. so having a federal standard and exercising preemption, setting a